By Oladimeji Loko:
Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles’ dreams of winning the men’s football gold medal here at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were ended on Wednesday after a 2-0 defeat to Germany at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.
Lukas Kostermann scored the first goal of the contest early in the first half, while Nils Pietersen finished off the African U-23 champions late on.
Germany will face hosts Brazil on Saturday for the gold medal, while Nigeria and Honduras battle for bronze.
The Germans got off to a bright start and could have gone ahead after just five minutes, but Serge Gnabry’s shot was blocked after he had been sent through by a pass that split the Nigerian defence.
The opening goal came soon after when Lukas Klostermann tapped in from an inventive move that carved the Nigerian defence open. The defender was left unmarked in front of an unguarded net.
The Olympic Eagles were almost level three minutes later, but Sadiq Umar failed to take advantage of goalkeeper Timo Horn’s error.
Germany continued to get in behind the Nigerian defence and it took goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel to make a big save off Sven Bender who was left free six yards out from a Germany freekick.
But Nigeria, playing without the injured Oghenekaro Etebo and the suspended Azubuike Okechukwu, got back in the game and almost equalised twice.
In the 31st minute, Mikel Obi left two Germany defenders on the floor with deft feints but his shot from inside the box was blocked.
And in the 45th minute, a one-two between Sadiq and Aminu Umar put the latter through but the ball was taken off his toes just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Germany started the second half the way they started the first and could have been 2-0 up in the 48th minute. But Daniel saved a Gnabry shot after the Arsenal winger had left Shehu Abdullahi for dead.
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Moments later, Germany again almost scored after Daniel was rounded but the shot was wide.
Nigeria created very little and never looked like equalising, even with Junior Ajayi replacing Sadiq, and Saliu Popoola replacing Ndifreke Udo.
Germany made sure of their place in the final in the 85th minute when substitute Nils Pietersen tapped home following a fast break.